Bail process in Nashville. After an arrest in Nashville, odds are that you’ll end up at Davidson County Criminal Justice Center, the main correctional facility in the county. As you are being booked and processed into the facility, you’ll be allowed to make a phone call. At that point, you can contact a friend or relative for help or directly call a bail bond company. All the information necessary to post bail should be available if you’ve been arrested for a misdemeanor. Generally, bail is set immediately based on a county schedule. However, if the crime is more serious, bail won’t be set until a bail hearing is conducted, and that could take place the next day.
Types of Bail in Nashville. There are four bail options for defendants in Nashville. They include:
- Personal recognizance. This is the same as a signature bond – a defendant pays no money and instead signs an agreement promising to return for all scheduled court hearings. A PR release is only an option for minor crimes and defendants with little or no previous criminal history. In addition, court officials must feel comfortable that the defendant is not a flight risk.
- Cash bond. A defendant or co-signer who chooses this type of bail must pay the entire amount of the bail set by the court. As long as the defendant does not violate any bail conditions, the bulk of the money is returned at the end of the case, minus court fees and costs.
- Surety bond. This is the most common type of jail release because many defendants don’t have enough to pay the entire bail amount in cash. Under Tennessee law, a defendant can hire a bail bond agent and pay a “premium” of up to 15 percent. Typically, the amount is 10 to 15 percent and it is non-refundable. Anyone 18 and older with the necessary financial resources can act as a co-signer for a defendant. If the defendant jumps bail, the co-signer is liable for the entire amount of the bail and the bail bond agent will often employ a bounty hunter to find and bring the defendant back to court.
- Property bond. This is the most complicated jail release option. Paperwork is required to prove ownership of the property. In addition, the defendant must prove the value of the property and equity in the property at least equal to 150 percent of the amount of bail. A lien on the property is signed over to the County Clerk and the entire process usually takes 2 to 3 days to be completed and approved. .
How bail is set. Jails and detention facilities in Nashville and elsewhere in the state have pre-set bail schedules that make it possible for defendants begin the process of posting bond almost immediately. The pre-set schedules only to less serious crimes, mostly misdemeanors. A defendant arrested for a felony must attend a bond hearing to have bail set by a judge. Having the assistance of a criminal attorney, particularly for a more serious crime, can be invaluable to argue for lower bail amount.
Bond costs and options. All defendants posting bail must also pay a $37 state fee. The cost for a surety bond is often 10 percent of the total bail amount, but can be up to 15 percent. A defendant, or co-signer, posting cash bail can save the 10 to 15 percent premium. Defendants considering posting a cash bond should make sure they still have enough money to pay legal fees in their case, as well as fines and other potential costs.